First lady Jill BidenJill BidenFirst Lady visits schools to discuss COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden travels west as Washington troubles mount MORE held up Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Journalist Zaid Jilani describes removal of animal rights ad that criticizes Fauci Watch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing MORE as an “American hero” on Thursday as the two toured a local children’s vaccination clinic to spotlight coronavirus vaccinations of young Americans.
The first lady, clad in a pink pantsuit and white face mask with a flower design, visited staff and adolescents alongside Fauci at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. The children were receiving doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine at the clinic.
“Did you meet our American hero?” Biden asked staffers as she entered a bright atrium at the hospital, introducing Fauci to applause from the room.
The trip was Biden’s first as first lady to the children’s hospital in Washington, D.C., and the latest sign of her using her platform to aggressively advocate for the White House’s agenda.
It was also only the second time that Biden and Fauci have joined forces on a coronavirus event since the start of the administration. The Biden White House has gone to great lengths to embrace science and let experts like Fauci do the talking when it comes to the coronavirus in order to draw a contrast with the Trump administration.
Biden briefly chatted with a seventh-grade girl, Skylah, before she received her first shot at the clinic, asking the girl about her school and mentioning her own work as a teacher at Northern Virginia Community College.
“You know what, it’s better if you don’t look,” Biden told the girl, who was there with her mother. “Your mom and I will be your support system.” Biden held her hand as she received the shot and applauded afterwards.
Speaking to the press at the end of the event, Biden dodged a question about comments to supporters she made after then-candidate Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Harris facilitates coin toss at Howard University football game Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE criticized then-candidate Joe Biden about his stance on busing during a primary debate, after a new book said that she directed an expletive at Harris.
“My goodness, that was two years ago. We have moved on from that. So, now we are here to do vaccinations. We have hope. Look at all of the people who have come. They’re going to tell other people in the communities. And we have Dr. FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Journalist Zaid Jilani describes removal of animal rights ad that criticizes Fauci Watch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing MORE here which is — who doesn’t love Dr. Fauci?” Biden said to applause. “I think everybody in America loves Dr. Fauci.”
Biden also told reporters that she would be comfortable going to a restaurant again once President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE’s schedule lightens up.
“As soon as he has a little time, you’ll see us out,” Biden said.
The White House is trying to usher the public back to a degree of normalcy after more than a year of restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus upended the lives of most Americans and operations of businesses across the country.
Coronavirus cases have declined sharply across the United States as more and more Americans become vaccinated against the virus. Roughly 38 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in kids between the ages of 12 and 15. Over 600,000 Americans between 12 and 15 had received the shot as of Tuesday, according to the CDC. There are roughly 17 million children in this age group in the U.S.
Fauci, known for his blunt assessments of the virus, on Thursday struck a note of optimism, telling reporters that the U.S. would likely have enough information to vaccinate children of any age by the end of this calendar year.
“It’s coming soon,” he said.
Fauci also acknowledged, as he did earlier this week, that some Americans are misinterpreting the new CDC guidance that Americans who are fully vaccinated can shed masks in most settings indoors, but he insisted it was not a fault of any particular entity.
“Unfortunately, some people interpreted it as that everybody can get rid of their masks, which is not the case,” Fauci said. “It was speaking only about people who are vaccinated. But we’re clarifying that now. I think we’re getting on the right track.”
The event was the first high-profile visit of any Biden administration official to the children’s hospital, which is located north of the U.S. Capitol and adjacent to Washington Hospital Center and the D.C. VA medical center. First ladies, including Biden’s predecessor Melania TrumpMelania TrumpFormer aide sees Melania Trump as 'the doomed French queen': book If another 9/11 happened in a divided 2021, could national unity be achieved again? Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham planning book: report MORE, traditionally visit the hospital around the Christmas holiday to read to children.
Biden has been quite active in her first months as first lady. She hit the road as part of a victory lap following the passage of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief measure and traveled across the country to push for his infrastructure and families legislative proposals.
She has also formally relaunched a military families initiative that she started with then-first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaWe must mount an all-country response to help our Afghan allies Obamas, Bushes and Clintons joining new effort to help Afghan refugees Bidens, former presidents mark 9/11 anniversary MORE in 2011, with a focus on employment, military child education and health and well-being.
In a bid to boost vaccinations among younger Americans, the first lady traveled to West Virginia last week with actress Jennifer Garner to visit a school vaccination clinic.